Why Public Engagement?

As citizens and as scholars, we have an interest in today’s debates about public policy, conversations about the state of the world, and imagining a different future. Read more about the Public Engagement Projects' Mission and Vision

Upcoming Events

Summer Methodology Workshop: De-Mystifying Public Engagement
June 10-11, 9:00am to 3:30pm
June 12, 9:00am to 12:00pm (Optional)
Machmer Hall, Room E20, University of Massachusetts Amherst

As scholars, we often find ourselves wishing that our research could help people and organizations improve their work and lives, yet oftentimes we lack the skills and networks necessary to accomplish this worthy goal. In response, this workshop aims to promote participants' efficacy as public communicators and engaged scholars. Through a series of hands-on exercises and activities, participants will improve their ability to communicate effectively with non-academic audiences, learn how to engage diverse audiences, and develop personalized public engagement plans to promote follow-through and long-term success as engaged scholars. Participants do not need previous experience with public engagement and/or communication to attend but should come prepared to work on one or more concrete engagement products (e.g., op-ed, policy brief, media interview preparation). Go here for more info.

2018 PEP Fellow Liz Evans' co-authored research on the rates of marijuana consumption in Massachusetts is covered in the Boston Globe

Research co-authored by 2018 PEP Fellow Liz Evans on marijuana consumption in Massachusetts is covered on the Boston Globe. The study, led by the state Department of Public Health, offers a snapshot of cannabis use as the state gears up for the start of recreational marijuana sales, and found that one fifth of adult residents surveyed had used marijuana in the past 30 days. Young people, however, are using the drug at much higher rates: More than 50 percent of those aged 18 to 25 consumed cannabis within the past 30 days, compared with just 18 percent of those 26 and older. “The study establishes a baseline measurement of how marijuana is used and how that affects public health, public safety, and potential revenue in the state before adult-use marijuana becomes widely available,’’ said Marc A. Nascarella, a DPH researcher who lead the study. 

2018 PEP Fellow Donald Tomaskovic-Devey's Conversation piece discussing the possibilities of increasing Silicon Valley tech diversity receives wide coverage

New research from the UMass Amherst Center for Employment Equity, directed by 2018 PEP Fellow Don Tomaskovic-Devey finds that while white and Asian men dominate the workforces of the largest Silicon Valley tech firms, there are companies among their ranks that demonstrate achieving diversity in their workforces is currently possible. In the report “Is Silicon Valley Tech Diversity Possible Now?” co-authors Donald Tomaskovic-Devey and Joo-Hee Han examined data reported to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016 from a sample of the largest tech firms in the San Francisco Bay/Silicon Valley area, including the largest publicly traded and privately held companies in the region. The work received coverage in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Fortune and the Umass News Office.


2015 PEP Fellow Paul Collins describes the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court Justice nomination process as a major political battle in the Gazette

Paul Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, comments in the Gazette on the nomination process to fill the seating of retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as a major political battle. “In the immediate future, this is probably going to be the most divisive issue in American politics,” he said, adding that if Trump is able to get the type of nominee he wants on the Supreme Court the country is likely to see further restrictions on abortion rights, the possible end of affirmative action on college admissions and many gun regulations being struck down. 

2018 PEP Fellow Donald Tomaskovic-Devey discusses research on creating more diverse workplaces in Silicon Valley tech companies in The Conversation

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2018 PEP Fellow and director of the Center for Employment Equity, co-authors an article in The Conversation about an analysis of employment data for the 177 largest Silicon Valley technology companies that found that some firms have found ways to create more diverse workplaces. The commentary has been reprinted in Govtech.comThe Chicago TribunePhys.org, and covered by and Reveal News

2015 PEP Fellow Paul Collins discusses what lies ahead for the new Supreme Court Justice nomination with Massive and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Paul Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, comments in MassLive and the San Francisco Chronicle on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and what lies ahead for the nomination and confirmation procedures of his successor on the court. He says that the president and the Republicans “will have to determine if they want to hold confirmation hearings for a Trump nominee before the November elections. If they do so, they will certainly be criticized by Democrats for trying to rush a nominee through before the public has a chance to weigh in on the makeup of the Senate. If they choose to wait until the November elections, it is likely that the vacancy will be a rallying point for get-out-the-vote efforts for both the Democratic and Republican parties.”

2015 PEP Fellow Sylvia Brandt discusses the EPA's decision to disband a series of environmental advisory panels in Earther.com

Sylvia Brandt, 2015 PEP Fellow and a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Economics Advisory Committee, comments in Earther.com on the agency’s decision to disband the panel and two other advisory boards. Brandt says eliminating the committee means the EPA will lose important outside perspective to help guide its policies. And once it’s gone, she argues it would be harder to get people back in the room as they turned to other obligations. “The way the political process works is that those who are regulated are very, very vocal about all the costs they might incur from being regulated,” Brandt said. “The people who benefit [from regulations], the kids who don’t die, who don’t have asthma attacks, they don’t have a lobbying group. If you don’t have academically trained economists who approach this from a nonpartisan, academic perspective, [they] tend to not be included. Who’s going to play that role of referee at this point?” 

2015 PEP Fellow Paul Collins comments in a series of stories on the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Paul M. Collins, 2015 PEP Fellow, comments in a series of stories in the RecorderSalem News, and the Houston Chronicle about the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and how the nomination of a new justice will likely unfold. “In the immediate future, this is probably going to be the most divisive issue in American politics,” he says. Collins says Republicans see this as a chance to confirm a justice who will overturn Roe v. Wade, the ruling that legalized abortion. Collins also says President Donald J. Trump may not heed the advice of the state’s two U.S. senators in choosing to fill two vacancies on the U.S. District Court bench in Massachusetts. 

PEP Steering Committee Member Linda Tropp Selected as Recipient of the 2018 Scientific Impact Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology

Linda Tropp, PEP Steering Committee Member, has been selected as a recipient of the 2018 Scientific Impact Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (SESP), which "honors the author(s) of a specific article or chapter offering a theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological contribution that has proven highly influential over the last 25 years." Tropp will receive this award in recognition of the 2006 article she coauthored entitled "A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory" which maintains that contact, under certain conditions, between two or more social groups can promote tolerance. If groups are allowed to communicate with one another, they may start to appreciate each other's viewpoints. Findings from Tropp's meta-analysis shows that intergroup contact typically reduces intergroup prejudice. More details available here.